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DNA matches from iced tea bottles produce 19 car burglary charges against Mahwah man

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A DNA sample from two iced tea bottles led Mahwah police to a 21-year-old borough man they’ve charged with a series of car burglaries nearly a year ago.

All told, Wendall S. Hammond was charged with 19 counts of burglary to a motor vehicle, 15 counts of theft and three counts of credit card theft.

The items stolen from cars in the Cragmere section of town ranged from cash, GPS units, purses, jewelry, wallets, sunglasses, chargers, credit cards, and driver’s licenses, Mahwah Police Chief James Batelli.

During the investigation, police found iced tea bottles in two separate vehicles, Batelli said.

In both cases, the owners said it wasn’t was theirs, the chief added.

The bottle were sent to the New Jersey State Police laboratory for analysis.

This week, Mahwah police got a match.

Officer Chris Fasulo spotted Hammond, who lives on Franklin Turnpike, in the Cragmere neighborhood the night of May 21, when Batelli said most of the break-ins occurred.

Fasulo, unaware of the thefts, spoke with Hammond, let him continue on and made a note of it, the chief said.

When the break-ins were reported to police the following day, Fasulo recalled certain items that Hammond was carrying.

Officers went to his house, but “he was uncooperative and retained legal counsel,” Batelli said.

A search warrant was obtained from a Bergen County Superior Court judge to obtain a buccal swab from Hammond.

Hammond, who Batelli said has no criminal history, was released without bail. All of the complaints were forwarded to the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office for grand jury action, the chief said.

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